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Jasper Ayelazuno

army officer and military head of state of Ghana, was born in Trabuom in the present-day Ashanti Region of southern Ghana and then part of Britain’s Gold Coast colony. He was the son of James Kwadwo Kutu Acheampong and Akua Manu. Raised as a Roman Catholic, he attended Trabuom Elementary School and St. Peter’s Catholic School in Kumasi, before receiving his secondary education at the Central College of Commerce at Swedru in the Central Region of Ghana. Having obtained his West Africa Secondary School General Certificate of Education at the ordinary level (popularly known as GCE O level) and a diploma in commerce, he worked in various places and positions. From 1945 to 1951, he was a stenographer/secretary at the Timber Sawmill in Kumasi, a teacher at Kumasi Commercial College, and the vice principal at Agona-Swedru College of Commerce.

Acheampong subsequently enlisted as a private soldier in the British ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

military leader and politician, was born on 21 March 1937 in the eastern Ghanaian town of Akropong. He attended secondary school at the well-known Presbyterian Boys’ Secondary School located in Odumase Krobo, Ghana. After finishing his secondary education in 1955, he joined the Ghanaian army. Eventually he entered the elite Royal Military Academy officers’ training school in Sandhurst, England, in 1958. Some of his fellow African cadets went on to organize the 1966 coup that overthrew the Nigerian First Republic. After graduating from Sandhurst in 1960 and receiving further military training in England in 1961 and 1967, Akuffo became the head officer of Ghana’s Airborne Training School at Tamale, in 1965 and 1966, and then became the commander of the Sixth Infantry Battalion in 1969. He supported the coup led by his fellow officer General Ignatius Acheampong in 1972 In the following year Akuffo ...

Article

Haggai Erlich

Ethiopian military leader, was born in the village of Tsazegga, some fifteen miles north of Asmara, the capital of Eritrea, an Italian colony at that time (1890–1941). Prior to the establishment of Asmara by Ethiopian general Ras Alula Engida in 1885, Tsazegga had for centuries been the headquarters of a local Christian family that succeeded in maintaining its autonomy. Educated in Khartoum, Aman returned to Ethiopia in 1941 with the British forces who defeated Mussolini’s African empire and restored Emperor Haile Selassie to the throne. He proceeded to distinguish himself in a brilliant military career, commanding Ethiopian UN contingents in Korea and Congo. In the Ogaden battles against the Somalis in the early 1960s, General Aman willfully ignored Haile Selassie’s orders by penetrating Somali territory. He was consequently “exiled” to the Senate in 1965 as was the practice with overly independent political figures Aman continued to ...

Article

Nelson Kasfir

military officer and President of Uganda from 1971 to 1979, was probably born in Koboko district near the Sudanese border in northwestern Uganda. Few facts about his parents, his birth date, or his upbringing can be confirmed. His mother, who was Lugbara and originally Christian, separated from his father—who was Kakwa, Muslim, and possibly a convert from Christianity—shortly after his birth and raised Amin in southern Uganda.

As a Muslim belonging to both the Kakwa and the Nubian ethnic communities, Amin received little formal education and had halting command of several languages, including Swahili and English. He practiced polygamy and married at least six women: Malyamu Kibedi and Kay Adroa (both Christians prior to marriage) in late 1966 and Nora (her full name cannot be confirmed), a Langi, in 1967. He divorced all three, according to a Radio Uganda announcement on 26 March 1974 He married Nalongo ...

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Sterling Recker

Rwandan military officer, was born into a northern middle-class Hutu family in Gisenyi, Giciye Commune. He was the oldest of six children and the son of a teacher. He attended the Petit Séminaire (minor seminary) St. Pie X in the diocese of Nyundo for his primary education. Upon graduating from the minor seminary, Bagosora began his military training at the officers’ training school in Kigali in 1962. In 1981 Bagosora traveled to France to attend the Études Militaires Supérieures de l École de Guerre Française where he received further training at the elite school He was the first Rwandan to attend the foreign academy Upon his return to Rwanda he began his tenure as commander of the Kanombe military camp located outside of Kigali He married Isabelle Uzanyinzoga a Hutu from southern Rwanda which caused friction between Juvénal Habyarimana and other hard line northern Hutus in the government ...

Article

Sterling Recker

Rwandan Hutu politician and military leader, was born in Byumba Prefecture, Gizungu Commune, Rwanda. He is considered by many to be one of the key actors in the planning and implementation of the Rwandan genocide in 1994, and is one of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda’s (ICTR) most wanted perpetrators of the genocide. He has been accused of genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, complicity in genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, crimes against humanity including murder, extermination, rape, persecution, and “serious violations of Common Article 3 and Additional Protocol II (killing, outrages upon personal dignity)” (The Hague).

Between 1990 and 1994 Bizimana was allegedly involved in the planning of the genocide, including the preparation of lists which contained the names of Tutsi and moderate Hutu. Bizimana initiated his plans for Rwanda when he was appointed Defense Minister in July 1993 As Defense Minister Bizimana had ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

military leader, was born in the village of Abumobazi in the Mobayi-Mongo in the northern Equateur Province of the Democratic Republic of Congo. His parents belonged to Ngbandi-speaking clans, which later would be helpful as he aligned himself with Congolese dictator Mobutu Sese Seko. After attending primary school, Bobozo ended up volunteering for the colonial Force Publique army in the Equateur town of Lisala on 28 June 1933. He was transferred to Irebu later in 1933, followed by Thysville in 1934, and Kisangani in 1935. On 1 May 1938 Bobozo advanced to corporal, and during World War II was stationed initially in the remote northeastern town of Watsa. However, he left the Congo to join the Allied invasion of Italian-controlled Ethiopia in 1941 He then returned to his homeland After receiving a distinguished service medal for his war experience from the Belgian government Bobozo ...

Article

Richard A. Bradshaw

military officer and President of the Central African Republic (CAR), was born François Bozizé Yangouvonda in Mouila, Gabon, on 14 October 1946. His father, Yangouvonda, a Baya (Gbeya) from Ouham region, served in the French colonial army and the colonial gendarmerie (police forces) in Gabon and then Bossangoa, near his hometown. Bozizé attended primary school at Tchibanga (Gabon) and continued his studies at Bossangoa and the Lycée Technique in Bangui. Joining the Central African army some time around 1966, he entered the École Speciale de Formation des Officiers d’Active (ESFOA) at Bouar in 1967, graduating as a second lieutenant in September 1969. After attending the Centre National des Commandos at Mont-Louis, France (1970–1971), Bozizé was promoted to first lieutenant (1 September 1970), and after officer training at the École d’Application de l’Artillerie at Chalons (1973–1974 and the Centre Interarmées des Sports at Fontainebleau ...

Article

Émile Mworoha

president of Burundi, was born on 24 November 1949 in Rutovu, in the province of Bururi. He was the son of Rurikumunwa, a Tutsi-Hima from the Batyaba clan, and his second wife, Nzikobanyanka. After primary school (1958–1963), Buyoya attended the École Moyenne Pédagogique in Rutovu until 1967. He then left for Belgium to follow a program of military studies, first at the École Royale des Cadets, then at the École Royale Militaire in Brussels. He simultaneously did university studies in the social sciences and defended a thesis on the organization of the Algerian National Liberation Front. Having specialized in the armored cavalry in Belgium, he completed his military studies in France at the École d’État-Major (General Staff College; August 1976–January 1977) and in the Federal Republic of Germany at the Führungsakademie der Bundeswehr (German Armed Forces Command and Staff College, 1980–1982). Beginning in 1982 he ...

Article

Eric Young

Never content to be merely a soldier, Pierre Buyoya has twice seized political power, pledging both times to bring peace and democracy to Burundi. Born into a modest Hima Tutsi family in the southern Buriri province, Buyoya received his primary education locally. He then went to Belgium for secondary school, university, and, later, military training. After returning briefly to Burundi in 1975 to command an armored squadron, he received further military training in France, and then joined Burundi’s ruling UPRONA party. He was elected to its central committee in 1979. In the mid-1980s Buyoya began openly criticizing President Jean-Baptiste Bagaza, a former soldier and fellow Tutsi from Buriri, for his hostility toward the Catholic Church. In September 1987, Buyoya led a coup against Bagaza, charging him with corruption, failed economic policy, and constitutional violations.

Upon assuming the presidency Buyoya suspended the constitution released political prisoners and ...

Article

Mohamed Saliou Camara

Guinean military officer and statesman, president of Guinea, was born in Dubréka, French Guinea, to Alsény Conté and Mabory “M’Mah” Camara. He received his formal schooling at the French military cadet school of Bingerville (Ivory Coast) and the École Militaire Préparatoire Africaine (EMPA; African Military Cadet School) of Saint Louis (Senegal). As a private in the French colonial army since 1955, Conté was deployed to Algeria in 1957 to fight against the Algerian Front de Libération Nationale (FLN; National Liberation Front), which had launched a war against the French occupation beginning in 1954.

At his own request, Sergeant Lansana Conté was discharged and left Algeria in December 1958, having decided to return to Guinea, which had won independence in October. In March 1959 Conté joined Republic of Guinea s newly created armed forces and in the next ten years proved to be a valuable pillar thereof ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

Chadian military leader and politician, was born in the village of Berdoba. His father was a poor herder who belonged to the Bidayat clan of the small Zaghawa ethnic community. He began his education at a quarʾanic school in Tiné and the École Française at Fada before attending secondary school at the Lycée Franco-Arabe at Abéché, the Lycée Jacques Moudeina at Bangor. He then entered the military and graduated from an officers’ training school in the Chadian capital of N’Djamena. Like many other military officers, he then received further training to become a pilot in France in the late 1970s. He supported President Félix Malloum, leader of Chad from 1975 to 1979. Even after Malloum’s government crumbled in 1979, Déby remained a supporter of Malloum. In Malloum’s last illness before his death in June 2009 Déby ensured that Malloum was sent to French hospitals When Déby ...

Article

Richard Pankhurst

Ethiopian provincial ruler and military leader (also spelled Imru Hayla Sellase and Himru Hayla Sellase), was a cousin of Emperor Haile Selassie and one of the four commanders on Ethiopia’s northern front during the Italian Fascist invasion of 1935–1936. A modernizer interested in social justice, he was also an author of writings in Amharic and a figure much venerated in progressive Ethiopian circles.

Emru, the great-great-grandson of Sahle Selassie, founder of the modern Shewan state, was the son of Dejazmach Haile Selassie, a nobleman at Emperor Menilek’s court. Young Emru was entrusted at an early age to Menilek’s cousin, Ras Mekonnen Welde Mikael, the father of Dejazmach Teferi Mekonnen, the future emperor Haile Selassie. The two boys were reportedly brought up together like twins. They witnessed Ethiopian government activity at Ras Mekonnen’s court and, after the ras’s death in 1906 were enrolled in the Menilek II Secondary School founded ...

Article

Willie Henderson

British colonial administrator of Basutoland and queen’s commissioner of Bechuanaland Protectorate (modern-day Botswana), was born in Claygate, Surrey. He attended Charterhouse School and then Clare College, Cambridge, where he studied law. During World War II, he served as a lieutenant-commander in the Royal Navy. Immediately after the war, he joined the Colonial Service and was sent to Basutoland (Lesotho). He then spent some time in the High Commissioner’s Office in Pretoria (South Africa), where he worked under first Sir Evelyn Baring, whom he greatly admired, and then Sir John le Rougetel. In 1954 he became government secretary of Bechuanaland working under Forbes Mackenzie and then Martin Wray His career developed within the anomalous colonial administration of the High Commission Territories Bechuanaland Basutoland and Swaziland were under the High Commissioner s Office in Pretoria When the Union of South Africa was established it had been envisaged that the High Commission ...

Article

Egyptian military leader, was born in the small Egyptian village of Batanon, not far from the town Shebin al-Kom, in the Menoufiya governorate. He completed his elementary schooling in his village and his secondary schooling in Shebin al-Kom.

From 1939 he studied at the Egyptian Military Academy in Cairo, and after graduating enlisted in the Egyptian Army. At first he served in an infantry unit on the Sudanese border; later his unit was attached to the Egyptian Border Guard in the Western Desert region, operating in the vicinity of the Libyan border. From 1944 al-Gamasy served in the armored and artillery corps. In 1948 he was sent to the United States to continue his studies, where he remained until 1950.

During his lengthy military service he occupied a wide range of operational and command positions including commander of an armored unit 1950 1954 commander of an armor regiment 1954 ...

Article

Sam L. Laki

Sudanese military officer and politician, was born into the Aulian Dinka clan at Wangkulei, Jonglei State, southern Sudan (South Sudan as of 9 July 2011). His father, Mabior Atem, and mother, Gag Malual from Kongor, had seven children together, of whom Garang was the sixth. Garang’s parents died when he was ten years old. His uncle, who worked for the dairy unit of the government of Sudan, took him to Tonj, Lakes State, South Sudan, and enrolled him in school there. Garang attended Tonj Elementary School, Lakes State (1952–1955); Busere Intermediate School at Wau, Western Bahr Ghazal State (1956–1959); and Rumbek Secondary School, Lakes State (1960–1962). His education was disrupted by the First Sudanese Civil War, and he left the Sudan before finishing secondary school.

Garang went into exile to Tanzania, where he enrolled at Magambia Secondary School, sat for the Cambridge school certificate exams in 1962 and earned ...

Article

Habyarimana was born in Gisenyi in northern Rwanda into a prominent family of the Hutu ethnic group. He completed one year at Lovanium University (now the University of Kinshasa) Medical School in the former Zaire (now Democratic Republic of the Congo) before joining the army and enrolling in officers' training school in the Rwandan capital of Kigali. Rising quickly through the ranks, he served in a number of military roles between 1963 and 1973, including national guard chief of staff, commander of the national guard, and minister for the armed forces and police.

Backed by northern military officers, Habyarimana overthrew the civilian government of Grégoire Kayibanda in July 1973 and declared himself president. After creating the National Revolutionary Movement for Development (NRMD) as Rwanda's only legal party in July 1975 he shifted control of many sectors of the government to civilians while retaining northern Hutu military ...

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Phillip A Cantrell

last president of pregenocide Rwanda, was born on 8 March 1937 in Gisenyi to a prosperous Hutu family. Following primary school, he graduated from the College of Saint Paul in Bukavu, Zaire, with a degree in mathematics and the humanities. Habyarimana had completed a year of medical school at Lovanium University in Zaire when Grégorie Kayibanda assumed power in 1959, at which time he left Lovanium to enter the officer training school in Kigali. Upon graduating with distinction in 1961, he became an aid to the Belgian commander of the colonial forces in Rwanda; two years later, owing to his education and charisma, he was named head of the Rwanda National Guard. In 1965 he was promoted to head the Ministry of the National Guard and Police, a cabinet-level position which made him the most powerful figure in the Rwandan military.

Initially Habyarimana was a steadfast supporter of ...

Article

Mustafa Kabha

was a member of the Free Officers, a group that succeeded in engineering a coup against the monarchist regime of Egypt in July 1952. Kamal al-Din Husayn was born in Kaylubiyya, Egypt, in 1921, and graduated from the Egyptian Military Academy in 1939. At the outbreak of World War II he enlisted in the Egyptian army and served in an artillery unit in the Western Desert. He took part in the War of 1948 in Palestine and upon his return to Egypt was appointed a teacher at the school of artillery and at the military staff college. In January 1949 he joined the Free Officers who were operating clandestinely within the Egyptian army together with ʿAbd al Latif al Baghdadi However he also maintained a strong relationship with the Muslim Brothers long serving as their liaison with the Free Officers His association with the Muslim Brothers ...

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Efraim Barak

Egyptian army officer who commanded the assassination of the Egyptian president Anwar al-Sadat, was born on 14 November 1957 at Malawi, a village in the El Minya region. His father, Ahmad Shawqi, was a lawyer and head of the legal department of the Najʿ Hamadi sugar refinery. Islambuli began his elementary school studies at the Notre Dame missionary school of Malawi, later spent three years in a school run by the sugar company in Najʿ Hamadi, and completed his high school studies at the Al-ʿAruba school of Asyut. He applied to the Police Academy and to the Air Academy but was rejected by both. Finally, he was accepted by the Military College, from which he graduated with honors as an officer in 1978. He was assigned to the Artillery Corps as a commander of an artillery unit and stationed at Unit 333’s base, near Cairo.

Islambuli s thinking was ...